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Pacific to benefit from more sports pathways

Australia’s increased engagement in the Pacific islands will see more sporting teams touring the region.

Two top Australian netball clubs were in Fiji last week, ending the tour with a friendly match against each other that included Fiji’s national players joining them.

It was dubbed the Suncorp Super Netball Fiji tour and according to Australian Chargé d’affaires Paul Wilson, it was about creating elite sports pathways for Fijians and an opportunity for high performance players to play in Australian competitions.

Mr Wilson said the tour showcased a specific sport that has a high performing program and complements the Team Up program which encourages community and sports for development programs at a community level.

“We’re continuing to work on some of both of those streams, the high performance in the community level and sports development in a range of sports like we’ve seen in netball this week.

Goal keeper Josephine Nailumu playing for Team Thunderbird. Picture: Netball Fiji

“Sports are important at community levels and also in the Pacific and Australia is a sports mad country.”

Mr Wilson added Australia and Fiji have a broad relationship on so many fronts and because both are sports fanatics, it is a great way of binding both countries further.

“The way they have worked together and bonded this week. That is a very practical way of building relationships between countries.

“We have seen that in particular with the Fijian Drua that  played in an Australian and New Zealand competition and having the Pacific sport facilitated is important for Fijian rugby,” Wilson said.

Fiji Netball head coach Una Rokoura said they were grateful for the direction and support from the week long tour.

Two top Australian netball clubs were in Fiji last week, ending the tour with a friendly match against each other that included Fiji’s national players joining them. Picture: Australian High Commission

“The program this week has boosted the confidence level of the players and this is the type of environment we want to give (them).”

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Rokoura added the next major competition will be the Pacific Sports Series in October, featuring the same countries that participated in the 2023 Oceania Netball World Cup qualifiers.

Sunshine Coast Lightning Captain Laura Scherian said the week-long tour was a fun and grateful experience.

“It’s been a great exchange of knowledge of netball and skills.To get on to court…..was a real privilege, especially to see how they do it here in Fiji.” she said.

Both teams were on a roll during the Fast5 match at the Vodafone Arena at Suva, Fiji. Picture: Australian High Commission

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